In 1983, seven of my mom’s friends gave birth. I was the second-to-last born and the only girl of the group. Growing up, we were all good friends, even though some of us were more attached than others. Mark and Tony were the best friends I had throughout my childhood.
As is always the case, we grew up. Mark’s family moved from across the street from me in Mayfair. Not too long afterwards my family moved and we were a short car drive away from them.
We lost touch by the time we had all reached high school. Tony was the youngest, born a month after me. Our mothers have shared embarrassing stories about them babysitting us, and Tony always hating to wear his diaper.
“She’d come to pick him up and ask where his diaper was. I would just tell her that after the third one I gave up. He didn’t’ want to wear it,” Mom said.
When I received the phone call that he had died, I couldn’t grasp the idea. The funerals I had attended before were always older and distant relatives. I had never experienced someone who, at one point had been so close to me, pass away.
More suddenly then I expected, memories flooded me. I remembered when we would go to parties at Tony’s house and always got to walk around the corner to Esposito’s to get Italian water ice in the summer. Tony’s older brother Mikey would walk us there.
I remembered going to one of the side streets with a tennis ball to play wire ball – there are probably tennis balls still on that garage top. I remembered not having to worry about who was in trouble and who was gone and who was doing great in their daily lives.
I didn’t cry and this bothered me. It’s not that I wanted to cry; it’s just that I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t cry. I felt numb, until we went to the viewing. For the first part of the viewing, I was mellow and subdued. It was like being in a movie, where you know what’s going on and you can’t change any of it, you’re just in this place, in motion.
I hadn’t talked to Tony in over four years. He looked nothing like I remembered. I made it through most of the service and I still hadn’t shed a tear. My mom and her friends were crying and I remember handing them tissues.
When Tony’s girlfriend stood up and read a poem and some other things about Tony, I lost it. I was standing near Mark and his dad. Mark had been crying on and off since he had arrived, like his older brother Matt. I started crying and couldn’t stop.
I thought about how unfair it was that someone so young could be lost. The day of the funeral, he was supposed to be going to go for an interview at a culinary school. He was attempting to make his life better, and he didn’t get his chance.
If there was anything I learned from Tony, it was that life isn’t lived on the sidelines. You have to do what makes you, you. He always had fun, and he could always make anyone smile.
I know that, though we had lost touch, we were still and always will be the little kids going to get water ice, losing our tennis ball to a wicked game of wire ball, and playing Nintendo in the basement trying in vain to beat our older brothers. So rest in peace now, Tone, you’ll never be forgotten.